Almost half of The Salvation Army’s 1.2 million church members are based in Africa, where the Christian church and charity is present in 27 countries.

Recent expansion has occurred in Madagascar, Gabon, Togo, Burundi, Namibia, Sierra Leone, eSwatini (Swaziland) and Guinea, and further missionary expansions is being explored in Cameroon, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Ivory Coast. 

Administratively the work in Africa is divided into 17 territories. Apart from reaching out through spreading the word of God and working towards unity with other religious groups and Christian denominations, The Salvation Army also reaches out to the vulnerable and less privileged through social programmes, such as:

  • schools (pre-school, primary, secondary, tertiary, skills training and special schools)
  • hospitals and health centres
  • women and youth empowerment programmes
  • conservation agriculture
  • adult and children’s homes
  • response to disasters
  • anti-human trafficking response
  • community banking and microcredit facilities for women
  • adolescent reproductive health and HIV/Aids awareness
  • radio ministry
  • fundraising
  • rehabilitation for street children, sex workers and people with drug addictions.

These social outreach ministries are supported by partnerships with other Salvation Army locations, government funding or locally generated funds. 

This exhibition, first shown at Gallery 101 in June 2023, highlights the modern slavery and human trafficking response within Africa, school ministry in Liberia and food security and economic empowerment programmes in Kenya.

Modern slavery and human trafficking response

Modern slavery and human trafficking affect 49.6 million people globally. Nearly a quarter of these cases are in Africa. Forced labour is a reality for 37 per cent of trafficked persons in Africa followed by forced marriage and sexual exploitation.1

The Salvation Army has an international modern slavery and human trafficking response strategy to work towards a world without slavery. The eight focus areas – prayer, prosecution, proof, policy, partnership, protection, participation and prevention – demonstrate how The Salvation Army participates with God in holistically responding to modern slavery and human trafficking around the world.

Sensitising on the streets of Democratic Republic of Congo
Sensitising on the streets of Democratic Republic of Congo

Each territory in Africa has an anti-trafficking coordinator, and they collaborate through a national community of practice. This forum brings together anti-trafficking and modern slavery personnel and practitioners to interact, engage, to share information, resources and best practices, and build strong partnerships and networks. Although the Africa Community of Practice only officially started in January 2021, it has quickly become a flagship of community demonstrating that people who are motivated, empowered and supported can indeed disturb the present to better the future.2

All territories in Africa are active in prayer and prevention responses through prayer walks, translation of prevention resources into local languages, sensitisation of information among community groups, and more.

At least 20 survivors have been repatriated to their home countries annually since 2021 through partnership and protection responses, and locally The Salvation Army is working towards fully implementing the prosecution, participation, policy and research (proof) responses. Trafficking and modern slavery practices rapidly change, requiring interventions to be continually relevant amidst limited resources.

1Global estimates of modern slavery 2022.     2Taken from a quote by The Salvation Army co-founder Catherine Booth who said ‘In order to better the future, we must disturb the present’

School Ministry in Liberia

The Salvation Army started working in Liberia in May 1988, about 18 months before the country was plunged into a deadly civil war that lasted for 14 years. The crisis is considered one of Africa’s bloodiest civil wars and was fought from 1989 to 2003 with most of the country’s infrastructure severely destroyed. The education sector was amongst the most affected, leaving behind a huge need for learning facilities throughout the country. The Salvation Army quickly identified the need to contribute towards the provision of quality education.

In 1992, The Salvation Army started its first school in Monrovia, the capital city. This initiative was gradually extended to other parts of the country and has grown to a school system consisting of 13 learning institutions – mostly built during the civil conflict – which includes three primary, four junior secondary, five senior secondary and one tertiary learning institution. There are 5,289 students enrolled in Salvation Army schools in Liberia with 386 administrative, instructional and support staff.

Students at Len Millar High School, Liberia
Students at Len Millar High School, Liberia

The school system provides quality education with strong discipline and has gained an admirable reputation in the country among the leading educational providers. The Salvation Army schools in Liberia have consistently been amongst the best performing schools in public examinations with the schools mostly obtaining 95-100 per cent pass rates annually with many national awards in academic and extracurricular activities. 

Most recently, one school produced the best student of geography in the whole of Liberia in addition to several other recognitions in previous years. With a successful record of providing primary and secondary education in the country, The Salvation Army started offering tertiary education in 2018 through its polytechnic facility which offers associate degree programmes. In 2022, the polytechnic received accreditation to offer baccalaureate degree programmes in 10 disciplines. 

At the end of 2022, The Salvation Army received three prestigious educational awards: the African Education Legends Award from School Growth International in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and the National Association of Liberian School Principals; a civil society organisation, the Society for the Promotion of Peace, National Reconciliation and Reunification also recognised The Salvation Army as the most outstanding educational institution of the year 2022 and the head of the Territorial Education Secretariat was also recognised as the educational director of the year 2022. In January 2023, the school system won the championship in the 2022-2023 annual debate and quiz competition organised by an anticorruption organisation, the Faith and Justice Network, Liberia.

The Salvation Army in Liberia has a vision of reaching many communities in need with quality and affordable education and to extend its services to Sierra Leone and Guinea, regions that are ranked with the lowest literacy and numeracy rates in the world. The main challenge that comes with this expansion is lack of resources, both material and financial. 

Economic empowerment

Food Security

The Salvation Army in the East of Kenya implements a number of community development projects on resilience, anti-human trafficking, community health, economic empowerment and education.

Food security intervention is delivered through the Mseto resilience project improving and equipping families with farming knowledge and skills relevant to the context of climate change. Around 1,404 families inclusive of people living with disability have benefitted throughout the project life and have replicated the technologies that have impacted communities positively enabling their food security, nutrition and household income.

Some of the challenges are prolonged droughts and lack of water; diseases; high production costs; post-harvest losses; unpredictable markets; and negative impacts of climate change. Future developments will focus on the use of technology especially in production, marketing and research.

Rose tending to her kitchen garden, Kenya
Rose tending to her kitchen garden, Kenya

Nairobi Investors

All parents want to feel that they are providing for their families. This is not easy in the slums where crime, violence and unemployment are rampant.

Nairobi Investors economic empowerment programme is helping families across Nairobi slums to improve their economic situations through savings and soft loans. Men and women living in Nairobi slums worked together on saving small amounts of money and borrowing the accumulated savings as loans to start small businesses to independently attend to their basic needs such as food, education, health and shelter. The intervention has offered the households capacity to become self-reliant by providing beneficiaries with basic business, budgeting and financial skills. 

Since this programme started, it has formed and enhanced 50 savings and loans groups in 37 Salvation Army churches and in 26 slum communities where 1,840 members participate as direct beneficiaries.

The project has empowered women to achieve financial independence, families are able to live more fulfilling lives and are lifted out of poverty, and people are able to free themselves from other social challenges, such as gender-based violence. A sustainable livelihood offers people an equitable and dignified life. This programme hopes to double the number of beneficiaries in the future.

The women in the Kibera Mamas group work together to handcraft beaded animals
The women in the Kibera Mamas group work together to handcraft beaded animals. The items are sold and the profits shared amongst the group.  Kibera Mamas is a community, the women share conversation about life, good nutrition and childcare, and they encourage one another